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Wilcox welcomes bluebirds

Bluebird houses line the road where Ruth Wilcox lives, a project fueled by her lifelong love for birds.

It is no wonder Wilcox became so interested in bluebirds: Two nature enthusiasts raised the 78-year-old. Her father was a native of Denmark and her mother was a member of one of Canada’s First Nations. Both were vegetarian and had a passion for bird watching.

Wilcox has traveled to many places and lived both near to and far from Charlotte County. She now calls Bailey Farm Road home.

It is on this street where she started placing bluebird boxes on posts lining the road. She heard of another Charlotte County resident who builds bird boxes and enlisted his help for the project.

She said there are at least 20 or 25 boxes, spanning about 3 miles all the way to Route 360.

She reads a magazine, Birds and Bloom,” to know just how far each bird house should be from the next and know how to best care for the animals.

For Wilcox’s own pleasure, she keeps bluebird houses on her porch and in her yard, where she can watch the birds interact.

“It’s been fascinating watching parents tend eggs,” she said, adding that she also enjoys seeing the young birds fledge. “I feel so sad for people who live in apartments in the inner city because they don’t get acquainted with nature. There’s so many interesting things about nature.”

She enjoys more than just birds. In her yard, she grows kiwis and, sometimes, grapes. She likes watching the rabbits walk around in the morning and does her best to keep her bluebirds safe from predators, like squirrels and cats.

When not caring for her garden and birds, Wilcox volunteers with a Halifax emergency department. While at work, she wears a small bluebird pendant on her collar.

When she was a young woman, she moved from Charlotte County to Kansas with her family. While there, she received a scholarship for $300 that funded three years of nursing training in Topeka, Kan.

Following training, she worked the night shift in emergency rooms. She said she would walk a mile to work, one way, in the dark, each day. After some time, she decided to sign up for the military instead.

Her dad was a veteran of the Marine Corps, and Wilcox was ambitious about the opportunity.

She said she’d rather “jump out of an airplane, heal the wounded and deliver babies,” if she had the choice.

During her time, she was involved with the last big polio epidemic. She remembered foot pumping iron lungs when the power went out until it came back on.

“It is totally different today,” she said. “I’d go back in a heartbeat if I wasn’t so old.”